Soldier to be buried in national cemetery
Vail, CO Colorado
EDWARDS ” Sarah Vaughan and her daughter waited in a Florida airport as a plane carrying her son in a casket traveled from Maryland.
Other family members waited, too. But Sarah Vaughan, her daughter, Becca Vaughan, and John Shaw Vaughan had lived their whole lives together in the valley.
So Sarah and Becca Vaughan wanted to be the only family there when John Vaughan was carried out of the plane.
“When the plane came in with his body (Becca Vaughan) said, ‘Mom I want it to be just us. He was ours,'” said Sarah Vaughan, of Edwards.
More than a year later, the women will walk behind John Vaughan as he is carried to his grave in Arlington National Cemetery Oct. 12.
Vaughan, a 23-year-old U.S. Army lieutenant, was killed in Mosul, Iraq, when a sniper shot him in June 2006.
“He will be so honored there,” Sarah Vaughan said. “It’s just his place and the family, generations later, can go visit and he will be there in Arlington.”
John Vaughan was born at the Vail Valley Medical Center and graduated from Battle Mountain High School in 2001.
He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a degree in aviation business management and was commissioned as a U.S. Army lieutenant in 2005.
After officer training at Fort Benning, Ga., he was stationed in Fort Wainwright, Alaska. He was killed five weeks after he started his first tour in Iraq.
U.S. Army Executive Officer Jason Turner was John Vaughan’s roommate in college. The two men were in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps together and Vaughan was Turner’s mentor and best friend, Turner said.
Vaughan provided valuable leadership and guidance in college, Turner said.
“I miss him, but I’m very proud of him,” he said. “There’s no better way to honor John than to have him buried in Arlington Cemetery.”
John Perkins, commander of the Edwards Veterans of Foreign Wars, tried to persuade Vaughan not to go to Iraq when he met him for lunch shortly before Vaughan left for Iraq.
But Vaughan wanted to go to war, Perkins said.
“I thought to myself, thank God we’ve got young men like this,” Perkins said.
John Vaughan will lie among honored people who died in wars and presidents, such as John F. Kennedy, Perkins said.
“You can just feel the history and the honor and integrity,” when one visits Arlington Cemetery, he said.
At first, Sarah Vaughan wanted her son to be buried in a Florida cemetery, where family members lie. Then she thought of spreading his ashes where he enjoyed skiing or where he used to go four-wheeling in his jeeps he had a knack for restoring.
But nothing felt right until May, when she and Becca Vaughan traveled to Arlington Cemetery for a memorial service to honor those who died in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
The women knew then that John Vaughan, who was fiercely dedicated to being a soldier, belonged there, Sarah Vaughan said.
“It’s the most moving place,” Sarah said. “It’s quiet and it’s part of our country’s history. It just felt right. That’s what he would want.”
Nowadays, Sarah Vaughan feels stronger than when she did even a couple months ago, the anniversary of her son’s death.
But she still struggles to deal with the loss of her son, she said.
“It’s just the forever that’s so hard to take,” Sarah Vaughan said.
She’s fine with having her son buried almost 2,000 miles away because his spirit is around her when she rides horses and spends time in nature, she said.
“I feel his presence all the time,” Sarah Vaughan said. “I feel like he’s watching me all the time.”
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.